Sheriff’s Office warning the public about ‘uptick in the frequency of warrant and juror scams’

Callers aggressive in pressuring individuals, agency says

Image courtesy Sheriff’s Office

The Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office is stepping up efforts to inform members of the public “about the uptick in the frequency of warrant and juror scams,” the agency has announced.

“The intricacy of several recent phone scams is concerning as callers claim to be affiliated with the Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office (SCSO) and use ranks and actual names of current or past employees to increase credibility,” a news release explains. The callers claim to be informing victims that they have arrest warrants for the victims in connection with the victims “not appearing in court, forgetting to pay a fine, or failing to report for jury duty.”

“The callers speak quickly and aggressively to pressure the citizens to handle payment immediately via mobile bank transfer, cryptocurrency, gift cards, or pre-paid debit cards,” the release points out.

The Sheriff’s Office “advises citizens that agency members will NEVER demand payment or request personal financial information over the telephone,” the release emphasizes. If a person “receives a call from a suspected scammer regarding an alleged arrest warrant or demand for payment of civic fines,” the release adds, the person “should consider this a possible scam. In these cases, do not provide any financial information. End the call and report it immediately to local law enforcement.”

The Sheriff’s Office’s Economic Crimes Unit (ECU), “created in 2021 to mitigate similar financial scams, has been inundated with these reports,” the release adds. “Last year, the fraud-related financial loss in Sarasota County totaled $14,274,892.64, up almost $5 million since the previous year,” the release continues. “In most of these cases, the victim’s money cannot be located or returned.”

“These phone scams have been happening for years, and we want to make sure that our citizens are aware that this is an ongoing issue,” said Sheriff Kurt A. Hoffman in the release. “When we hear of these scams, they can seem obvious, but repeatedly, the scammers convince innocent citizens that this is a real and urgent issue, then quickly turn them into victims. Let’s discuss this with our neighbors, friends, and parents to help stop this from happening,” the sheriff added in the release.

“If you or someone you know has been a recent victim of a scam,” the release says, contact the Sheriff’s Office at 941-316-1201 to make a report.

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